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Striking council carers call for fair pay not praise after glowing report

Friday, May 10, 2024

Striking home carers have accused council bosses of offering warm words instead of fair pay after their work was hailed by inspectors.

The staff said the praise of council bosses responding to a glowing review from the Care Inspectorate means nothing if their work is not properly recognised and rewarded.

GMB Scotland said home care staff, who walked out for four days last month, will strike again on Saturday 18 May and the following day and urged the council to engage with workers’ concerns to avert more industrial action.

Maria Feeney, GMB Scotland organiser at Falkirk Council, said: “The Care Inspectorate has only confirmed the commitment and professionalism of our members in Falkirk home care.

“However, they already know the value of their work as do the people they care for and their families.

“They deserve the praise of managers but, more importantly, they deserve fair pay and for those same managers to properly recognise the work they do and its importance.

“The council should spend less time sending out press releases praising the home care staff and more time discussing how to pay them fairly.”

A review by the Care Inspectorate saw Falkirk Council’s care service in the west of the council area securing a glowing report with officials giving it top marks across the board.

Managers were quick to praise the staff with Gail Woodcock, chief officer of Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership, saying: “It’s encouraging to know where we’re getting it right, and for colleagues to hear the impact of their efforts on people’s lives.”

GMB Scotland said warm words do not pay bills, however, and the industrial action has the overwhelming support of members after a grading review failed to reflect their increased responsibilities.

The union, representing relatively low-paid women across the public sector, warns ongoing negotiations will lead to claims totalling tens of millions of pounds across Scotland and risk sinking local authorities without the intervention of the Scottish Government.

In Falkirk, the union said a long-delayed review of care workers’ roles did not recognise the skills and specialist experience of staff and failed to properly assess their new responsibilities of delivering complex care and support.

In recent years, they have been asked to support people with complex needs, administering medication, increased administration and recording and liaising with other services like NHS Scotland and social work.

They are paid as little as £12.70 an hour but Falkirk Council rejected the union’s appeal against the grading review despite low pay being blamed for the local authority struggling to recruit staff for the crucial frontline service.